Side Project Brewing

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American Barleywine
Ranked #1
Ranked #60
4.73 | pDev: 4.86%
Side Project Brewing
Missouri, United States
Notes: Anabasis is our barleywine that was brewed with American malt and hops, but fermented with a strong English Ale strain to provide rich toffees, fruity hops, with a strong leathery, caramel backbone. Bourbon, vanilla and gentle oxidation showcase the 24 months of bourbon barrel aging that Anabasis went through to reach maturity.
Reviews: 23 | Ratings: 174 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.8/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Blend #4.

This one pours a very thick-looking and murky dark brown, nearly black, with a very small head, and no lacing.

This smells like caramel, leather, chocolate, oak, sherry, port, spice, maple, toffee, bourbon, and tobacco.

This is truly excellent stuff. It's got a lot of barrel, and it's much drier and more nimble than some of the absolute saccharine beasts you get in this style. There's a dry toasted oak thing, and the bourbon comes across swinging leather belts across the face. There's some spice and vanilla from the barrel, too. The base is more caramel and toffee than some of that dark dried fruitiness you often get from the style, but I do get a kind of dry sweetness, almost like sherry or port - that honestly could be some pleasant oxidization. The beer was in barrels for two years, so it's very possible.

This is medium bodied, creamy, and very rich and thick, with absolutely no booze character to it. This is 14%, and the booze is hidden just so well - it's a miracle in malt flexing.

It's easy to see why this is so well-regarded. It's really one of the best barleywines I've ever had.

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Photo of JMFP
4.56/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was Batch #2. Toffee, caramel, bourbon, and earthy fruit. Easy to see why this brew is in such high demand. Cory King is a magician, flexing his muscle in every style.

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Photo of Sabtos
4.41/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Semi-clear mahogany to prune juice dark brown with faint purple hues and a short fuzzy tan head that quickly dies to a used motor oil looking surface. There might be some tiny chunks of barrel char towards the bottom of the pour, but they are minimal.

Viscous, almost syrupy, yet silky smooth, Anabasis b3 kicks off with dark fruit and Reisen before a sudden, surprisingly woody barrel presence. It's a little splintery at first, and quite mature, before developing some notes of decadence with time, such as nutty nougat, maple, and hints of caramel apple.

Quite delicious, but maybe a little too woody, so I have a few other preferred favorites in this category. Frankly, I'm still surprised by the lofty pedestals that barleywines like this are placed while breweries like Cigar City just casually put out bangers on the regular that are AT LEAST just as good.

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Photo of Vidblain
4.66/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Blend #3.

Pours a deep, rich brown in color - minimal head, not very much carbonation (favorable, in my opinion). It's tremendously rich and sweet, with a fair amount of hop presence, with a fair amount of barrel - not as much as I'd expected.

I think I'd prefer Aaron on any given day, but Anabasis is still tremendously good.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.42/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

i have long been trying to track this one down, and i am stoked to finally have gotten the chance to enjoy it, blend three, an awfully fine example of the style, adjunct free if i understand it right, and truly wanting for nothing. it certainly is a beast of a beer, not just at this strength, but also with this amount of oak and sweetness, its a lot of everything, and its a proper sipper to say the least. deep deep caramel in color, reddish in the right light, neither murky nor clear, someplace in between, with just a short frothy khaki colored layer of foam on it from the bottle. the nose is crazy, an awful lot of bourbon and oak, i think it was heaven hill barrels they uses for this, and two years in them! heavy vanilla, wet tobacco, and english toffee abound there, some light tannins from the wood, as well as some oxidation when i taste it, something i never really mind in the style, and really is a sign of its maturity. the malt is huge, sweet like brown sugar and maple, and carrying that vanilla tune pretty nicely though the whole drink, a ton of body on it and a long linger even with the abundant alcohol at the end, its persistent. oxidation meets a robust english yeast strain too, bready and doughy even, adding a lot of depth. no hops really to speak of, although overall this somehow has some balance between all the elements at the end. whiskey for miles, boozy and sweet, dense and even chewy, but also fully wintery, warming, and satisfying. something to be shared for sure, but a prime example of the style and what extended barrel ageing looks like. impressive and worthy of being celebrated. that said, not the most interesting barleywine i have ever had, not the most dialed in i dont think either, but a special beer without a doubt!

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Photo of WhaleSlayer85
4.66/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours murky brown. Nose is figs, raisins, toffee, caramel, butterscotch, bourbon, char. Taste is a bit more subtle, with a well balanced profile of the aforementioned aromas. Nice, sticky slick mouthfeel. Overall, a very nice example of the style. Almost drinks like a stout.

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Photo of Harrison8
4.65/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours a very dark brown with ruby accents as it leaves the bottle and on the edges of the glass. No head. Aroma is toasty, roasty, caramel, butterscotch, herbal and floral hops. Flavor profile is butterscotch, toffee, caramel, and roasty, toasty malts. Big, deep complexity. Mouth feel is thick with a chewy texture. Overall, big, firm and filling. This is amazing.

Served from a 750mL bottle at the Side Project Cellar.

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Photo of eppie82
4.75/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Batch 3 at Side Project - The Cellar.

Incredibly dark. Very much a stout appearance. No foam. Toffee, rich, sweet caramel. Great mouthfeel and smooth. Rivals King Henry.

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Photo of PDXAmbassador
4.9/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Old checkin. Had b1 alongside several derivations and TG stouts and it stole the show. Huge bourbon aroma, thick mouthfeel, complex chocolate and stout flavors, along with malty caramel and raisin sweetness. Had b2 a year later and it was great, maybe less bourbon forward than b1.

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Photo of rodmanfor3
4.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

There are two things that most craft beer nerds get wrong about Anabasis:

1) The pronunciation of its name
2) The perceived G.O.A.T status of this beer in the realm of barleywines

It took nearly four years to track down a pour of this legendary beer, but only a fraction of that time to realize that I -along with the majority of the craft beer world- had been deceived by the Hype-Lords of the American Midwest.

Anabasis is a largely one-note barleywine that delivers on mild licorice flavors with a prominent bourbon barrel character on the front of the palate and little else. It misses the mark on what a truly great barleywine should deliver in terms of taste. There is no depth of flavor or complexity to this beer (on the palate), falling far short of the flowery "tasting notes" description that C. King offers on the label of the bottle.

Perhaps the saving grace of this beer is that it is remarkably thick, relative to other barrel aged offerings in this style. To this end, Anabasis resembles more of a stout than a barleywine, which sits well with the mouthfeel chasers of the hobby.

If you are a true fan of the barleywine style, Anabasis is sure to disappoint, given the incredible amounts of hype surrounding the beer and the overall underwhelming flavor profile it presents. If, however, your flavor preferences lean more towards simple stouts, this may be the beer for you; the mouthfeel and barrel character that envelops the base beer is world class and worth visiting if the cost of entry is low.

The letdown of this beer reminded me of my first Hill Farmstead Ann experience. A combination of low bottle counts, high trade values, exorbitant secondary values, and craft beer FOMO led to an artificially inflated expectation of the beer, one which ultimately detracted from the overall enjoyment of the drink in my glass.

There are many other barleywines that can be acquired and consumed with far less effort than it takes to land a bottle of Anabasis that likely will yield a more enjoyable tasting experience. I assure you, the rarity of this bottle and its secondary value do not contribute in any way to a more enhanced flavor or a greater overall enjoyment of this beer.

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Photo of Zach_Attack
4.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12/2017 - incredible aromas of bourbon, light anise, plum, tobacco, and earthiness; smooth creamy body with raisin, sherry, tobacco, and nice semisweet flavors; supremely luscious mouthfeel that just blows me away; the finish is surprisingly dry and balanced.

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Photo of M_chav
4.08/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A mix between a stout and a barleywine, lil roasty and underwhelming next to some of the biggest barleywines we had next to it blind. Not something I will be going after in the future.

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Photo of MichaelCoyne
4.96/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Had batch 2 on site from a keg. Easily the best barleywine I have ever had in my life. This shit is fire. If you are able to track down a bottle (will take a lot), you wont be disappointed

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Photo of Stevedore
4.49/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml waxed bottle, served in a Side Project stemmed glass. Pours a darker brown body, one finger offwhite head, one finger white head, good retention, nice lacing. Smell is rich caramel, earth, toffee, bourbon, oak, vanillin. This is very much the barrel-aged barleywine. Flavour follows, heavy oak, caramel, toffee, vanillin, oak, slight earth, nice complexity, fairly sweet. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy, nice toffee and barrel on the finish. A very nice and heavy barleywine with a lot of sweetness; it doesn't seem to offer more oomph than say, Revolution Straight Jacket for example. I feel like this is a bit overhyped despite this being an excellent barrel aged English Barleywine.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Batch 2

L: darker brown pour but black in he glass. No head, lifeless.
S: bourbon and caramel sweetness, by not a huge aroma.
T: more flavor as it it warms, but this is bourbon barrel forward. This had some typical caramel covered raisin sweetness, but those flavors are heavily trumped by the barrel. A bit of a let down but still amazing because the barrel is delicious and smooth.
F: medium thickness but so darn smooth. Slight booze and heat but in a good way.
O: fantastic beer, definitely let it warm to bring more of the typical barleywine flavors in balance with the great barrel.

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Photo of bennyman12
4.62/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

B2 at the cellar. Traded my first bottle(b1) 18 months and 62 trades ago as my first trade. Thanks Morandi, especially enjoyed befuddlement especially, but I'm happy to finally have this puppy tonight!

It's dark brown. No bubbles. Smells boozy as booze. Rum booze. Booze good. Stell-ahh!

Taste begins with Carmel (autocapitalize as if we're in Carmel by the sea. by the Sea). Quoth my buddy "the booze kind of dissipates. How does he do that? You're writing this down? I'm getting orange. And then the coconut. You have to mention the coconut. Like a toasted toasted pina colata."

Me: "yes! You are killing this beer review. And it has dates." Buddy thinks I'm taking about romantic dates or a beer named dates. Who would name a beer "dates?"

Katie of the cellar: "Yes. review is great. Like ..."

Buddy: "Is this too much? Are they going to lose this?" Buddy keeps insisting this is like derivation. This is not like derivation except in how it is thick with goodness.

Mouthfeel is very good. Full and not bubbly. Nor am I.

Great beer. Beer is great!

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Photo of gibgink
5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Batch #2 at the brewery on 3-4-17. Shared 3 ways so my wallet didn't feel the pain that much. Pours extreme dark brown with no head. This is a spectacular example of how barrel aging a barley wine can transform into a whole different brew. Sweet and succulent on the nose, with toffee and caramel notes blended with a light barrel note. Taste is off the chart. There was a grainy particulate or something that my tongue picked up that melted on the tongue and the toffee flavor that became borderline chocolate. Incredible.

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Photo of tapperm
5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had bottle 1 during a Barley wine Bottle Share.
L: DARK brown with a tinge of amber
S: Really nice carmelly and malty aroma.
T: Very well balanced of carmel, raisin, roasted malts.
F: Medium to thick
O: This was simply amazing. I love barely wines and this was probably one of the best ones I have ever gotten to enjoy. I had this along with Great from Apline, Aaron, and Brew 1000 from Fremont and was the best of those IMO.

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Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Amazing barley wine with wonderful layers of bourbon, dark fruit and raisins with light caramel notes as well . Had this as part of a barley wine tasting with several other world-class barley wines and this one stole the show!

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Photo of KevSal
4.93/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

had this one blind out of 18 total barleywines.

looks amazing, puddle water. the way i like my bwines! super dark in the glass slight brown head

smells is slightly muted at first but with the whirl of the glass juicy raisin jumps out. great bourbon, you can tell it will be good

flavor is off the charts, layers of flavors over and over. put the nose to shame! every sip brings out more bourbon, dark fruits, dried fruits and the flavor is on high the whole time. great balance of flavors never getting too sweet

mouthfeel is immense. flavor coats the tongue nicely

overall this beer is stellar and i had it blind. it came out on top 3 for everyone out of 18 ba barleywines. beating out so many beers i'm debating on marking it a perfect 5. i don't think it gets better than this

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Photo of IrishColonial
5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours full and rich with creamy carb, praline sweetness and slight booze on the nose, huge raisin and oats on the taste with some prune, fig, wood, and slight heat, creamy mouthfeel goes down dangerously easy. One of my white whales that took a team of us to bring down. Thanks Patrick and Myles!

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Photo of schroesd
4.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Just an incredible beer, strong but smooth, boozy but not overly so. Tastes a little of caramel, but not overly sweet. Certainly the best barleywine I've ever had, possibly the best beer.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.34/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Murky deep brown body with a small khaki head. Absurdly boozy aroma. Brown sugar, raisins, bourbon. Nutty and oaky. Taste is also extremely boozy. Bourbon and oak dominate. Nutty and caramel malts. Bitter. I expect a lot more sweetness. It's sweet, but not absurdly sweet. Heavy body. Medium carbonation. It gets pretty sweet as I drink it, but still really good. Well done.

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Anabasis from Side Project Brewing
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 174 ratings